Werribee Gorge Circuit via Centenary Walk

Do you remember my last post? How I said I was going to write three non-walking entries in a row? I’ve changed my mind. It’s okay though, as I ran it by the editor-in-chief (me) and he had no complaints. The main reason for the revision is I need a some more photos for the other write-ups. I’m aiming to get out with the camera in the next few weeks and with the pictures I take, I’ll make out they were taken six months ago. Does this make sense? I hope not, as it’s not meant to.

Speaking of images, I found a folder I’d already processed for a few walks around Werribee Gorge, which I did last year, so I thought I might as well use them. No point leaving them to gather dust, deep within a hard drive?

Werribee Gorge is an old favourite of mine for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s a short drive from my house and there’s one thing I’ve found as I get older. Sitting in a car drives me nuts. Once, I’d get in the car and ‘go for a drive’. These days, I can’t think of anything more hideous. Okay, I can picture some other dastardly things, but you know what I mean.

The other Werribee Gorge attraction is none of the tracks are too long, although this can be a bit of a downer at times. ‘Huh? Is that the walk? Finished already?’  There’s a way around this shortness though. How about combining a few of the strolls together? That’s what this post is. Instead of the traditional Werribee circuit walk, I also threw in another one called the Centenary Walk, which includes the James Whyte Island Reserve. Mind you, just to confuse you a little more, I’ve done this a few times and I’m combining all the photos into one. This’ll explain why the weather suddenly changes for no apparent reason. Oh, and when it appears to be sunset and then midday again. All within a minute.

Heading in, I decided to park at Meikles Picnic Area. Here’s a tip for any attending punter. I know a few cars have been broken into there in the past, so I leave absolutely nothing of value inside. Not even a Melways. Sure, due to the advent of electronic mapping, it might be the most dated and useless publication ever, but still, I won’t leave it in the car. If a crook can lay their hands on something, they’ll take it, even they don’t need it. Bastards. It reminds me of my old boss who once said, “Car thieves?! Stealing a car is like stealing a man’s horse!” to which I punched the air in agreement and acclaimed, “Yeah!!” Whilst thinking to myself, ‘what does that even mean?’

Leaving the car at the mercy of degenerates (I’m talking about crooks, not the current Federal government), I headed off on the circuit walk. Most times, I’m there mid-week and it’s deserted, but on one of these occasions it was a balmy Saturday and I was surprised to see hordes all day. This wasn’t bad though, as I told myself there might be a few freaks out and about for potential blog material. It didn’t take long, as I caught up to some blokes, but they made me feel left out. Had I missed out on a camouflage sale?


It’s difficult to see, but there are four people there

Checking out the patterns, I believe they’re all Woodlands camouflage, although I’m tempted to think there’s possibly Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) in there as well. I might do some more research. Do you reckon I’ve got too much time on my hands?

Pondering outdoor fashion, I continued on until stopping at an old homestead. It’s in ruins though and come to think of it, the word ‘ruins’ is a little too flattering. Pompeii’s in better knick than this joint and it was flattened by a volcano. However, a few walls are left.


I forgot to mention, but I’ve written up this walk before. A bit of searching will find it. The reason for referring is three years earlier, I pottered around the same rubble and saw this rusted old steel piece. Door from an old cooker or similar?


Except now it’s gone. It left me thinking. When I put the photo in my 2011 post, did I inadvertently advertise it to someone who’s then attended and knocked it off? Who knows, but unfortunately my cynical thinking believes if something isn’t bolted down, it’ll be taken. Then again, I could be getting ahead of myself there, as I’m not sure anyone has actually read that old post.

Pondering humanity, I wandered on and the Island was soon in view. Well, to be technical, it’s the James Whyte Island Reserve, but the full title is a bit of a mouthful. It’s all volcanic and only about three million years old. Roughly the same age as some cheese I had for lunch today. I really should check those ‘use by’ dates more often.

Do you want additional information about the Island? I’ll tell you this, it’s actually an excellent example of lateral stream development and preferential erosion along rock unit boundaries. Don’t ask me to explain this though, as I lifted the spiel directly off an information sign.


Descending the track, I was soon at one of my favourite spots in the area. Junction Pool. It’s always a good place to stop and put the feet up. Being the busy Saturday, I didn’t have it to myself though. Closing in, I was suddenly met by a couple of blokes who shouted, “Be careful. There’s a huge snake near the water!!” I just smiled and waved, replying, “No, it’s okay. I just forgot to do my fly up.” Yeah okay, it’s an old joke, but don’t you dare tell me there’s not some more mileage in it yet.

Upon proclaiming their sighting, they high-tailed it, leaving me alone. The thing is, once somebody says they’ve seen a snake, I go into crazed eyeball-mode, scanning the ground feverishly and anything dubious becomes, ‘Oh my god. What the hell is that sitting there??!!’ Oh, it’s just a stick.

Did I see a snake? Nope. I guess all their hollering scared it off, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t insanely careful where I sat down. Resting at the pool is a must, as it’s always good for water reflection photos and some admiration for how high the water can get when flooded. Numerous logs sit high on the rocks around it. Maybe I should go to some of these places after heavy rain? See if there’s much of a difference to these pictures?


Another reason I tend to rest there is what follows is a little painful. Leaving the pool behind, I was soon following the base of the Island, capturing some plants along the way…


…before the climb begins. Okay, it gets a little confusing here, as some of these photos were taken extra late in the day. I was planning to watch a sunset at one of the lookouts, so when I slogged up the Island track, the sun was pretty low. Mind you, lack of light always delivers skies with rich colours. I assume the Island was once covered in trees? Not any more, but the ones remaining were handy for silhouette shots.


During the late afternoon walk, I frequently stopped on the wide track for the purpose of capturing the longest shadow of a person in history. I think I’ve got a contender for the record.


It’s quite steep, but lucky a track has been cut in the side of the hill. If I had to go up this bit in the next photo, I’d probably be suicidal.


Height is quickly gained and turning around to look at what’s been walked is no fun if you’re doing it without a low sun. Where’s my shadow? No laughs to be had anywhere.


Finally, sounding like an off-kilter locomotive, I reached the top. There’s one thing about the top of the Island which only becomes apparent when you get there. Werribee Gorge and its surrounds is tiny. At times you think you’re in the middle of nowhere, but once you reach some height the Western Highway with it’s droning traffic is clearly visible. Not to mention the rural land, which hems the gorge in from all sides. It really is postage stamp size.

Anyway, a vehicle track runs across the top of the hill, so I wandered along it, following the fence-line…


…until reaching a spot which looks out across Werribee Gorge. It’s a good view, but I just checked the photos I took on the previous occasions and they don’t really do the landscape any justice, so I’m not including them. Best you drag yourself up there yourself to see the view I’m talking about.

At the top, what else is there to do? Not much, other than to suck in some oxygen and head back down. On the late afternoon saunter, I was in luck, as my shadow had returned. Here, look.


Waving at rocks was entertaining, but my attention was diverted by an aircraft trailing a contrail, as it came towards me…


…passed overhead…


…and then crashed into the Island. It was a wild scene.


Who knows what day it was, but on one of them, the sun was getting low as I moved past Junction Pool and began the climb back into Werribee Gorge. Looking behind, the silhouettes of trees on the Island were good value against the fading light.


It’s a steady climb back to the circuit track and once reaching it, I needed a breather for a moment. Luckily there was a sign for me to lean against. Unfortunately I underestimated my weight, so my rest stop didn’t go as planned.*


Reaching eastern lookout at sunset was the plan and I timed it perfectly. The stable weather and wisps of clouds produced some nice colour…


…before delivering a deep, red glow.


Oh, there was one slight problem. On this sunset walk, I waited until it was well and truly dark before heading off towards the car park, which was a few kilometres away. The trouble is, only then did I realise my headlamp batteries were going flat. It’s always disappointing trying to find your way with the illumination of a damp candlelight guiding the way. I wasn’t worried about getting lost. What bothered me was breaking an ankle. Combining careful prodding with slow strolling, I got back to the car with the reminder I should check the headlamp beforehand or at least carry some spare batteries.

Back to another day (are you getting confused yet?), I followed the track along a ridge before descending to Werribee River. It’s probably the best part of the walk, as there are some nice views looking back across to the Island, which is now in the distance…


…and the more rugged parts of the gorge are off-set by a nice set of clouds overhead.


Plus, you can’t discount my shadow-frenzy fetish. Here’s another. Nice hat.


On the sunny Saturday, this area was a rush hour, with punters going either direction. It took a bit of stopping and waiting in order to get photos with no one in them. Should I include people in the pictures? Okay, I’ve thought about this for approximately 0.4 of a second and I’ve come up with an answer. No.

Reaching the bottom of the gorge, all I had to do now was potter alongside Werribee River.


It’s quite a nice spot, but I’d suggest mid-week if possible. On the warm weekend, it was awash with people and many appeared to be deaf, as quieter the area, the louder they yelled. Why do people do this? I reckon I heard one group approaching me for about 20 minutes before they arrived. Using a foghorn method of communicating to each other, their incoming volume was cramping my zen.

When the din finally arrived, I observed it was four blokes in board shorts, no shirts, thongs and carrying towels. They asked me if the car park was in the direction I’d come from. Technically it was, but it involved a stinkin’ hill to climb and about five kilometres of other stuff before getting there, whereas the direction they’d come from was only a 20 minute stroll. How does one answer? Yes or no? I replied, ‘Yes it is!’ Sorry fellas.

As they flip-flopped in away, I had some peace and quiet and passed through areas of rocks…


…and enjoyed the late afternoon reflections on the river.


Always a special section, the famed Werribee Gorge wire-rope was in sight…


…and I successfully negotiated it without falling into the river. Tumbling into the water wouldn’t bother me. My main concern would be the camera getting dunked. My body might be found downstream, entwined in timber refuse, but as long as I’d managed to hurl the DSLR onto dry land, then it’s okay. The saved camera could then be sold to help fund my funeral.

What’s next? Actually, not a lot at all. One thing about the gorge is it’s all rough and ready, before literally it changes into a flat and easy stroll within a few hundred metres, before suddenly arriving in the car park.

How did my car go? Were you wondering if it’d been broken into or have you forgotten? Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know it was untouched.

That’s all I’ve got, so it’s time to finish up. Werribee Gorge Circuit might be under 10 km, but it’s always entertaining and even more so if you include the Centenary Walk in the same outing.

*No silly. I didn’t break the information sign. It was already lying on the ground, so I lay on it for the purposes of comedy. I’m aware though, the jury’s out whether it’s funny or not.